James Cameron did not rip off a screenwriter's work when he created "Avatar" a judge ruled
A federal judge on Monday threw out a case against filmmaker James Cameron and 20th Century Fox accusing them of ripping off a screenwriter's unmade film and novel to create the 3D blockbuster "Avatar."
U.S. District Court Judge Manuel Real said the "Bats and Butterflies" screenplay and the film were "not substantially similar" to "Avatar," according to court documents obtained by TheWrap.
"'Bats and Butterflies' is a straightforward children's story that lacks the depth and complexity of the moods expressed in 'Avatar,'" Real wrote in the decision.
Elijah Schkeiban, the plaintiff, alleged that a third party that he met "in the industry" had passed along the "Butterflies" script to Cameron, who, soon after, created "Avatar."
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In his original complaint, Schkeiban claimed there were apparent parallels between the plots of both "Avatar" and his screenplay.
Defense attorneys bluntly struck down the multiple examples Schkeiban offered in the two amended complaints he issued.
"Avatar" protagonist Sully is a wheelchair-bound Marine, the little boy in "Butterflies" is considered weak.
"Even at this basic level of idea, the characters differ," the defense said. "Being seen as weak is not protectable expression."
When the antagonists attack the respective "good guys" in each story?
"Again, bad guys attacking good guys is not copyrightable," the defense said.
Schkeiban also claimed that, because "Avatar" featured multi-leveled homes high in trees, that the flora on the film's planet, Na'vi mimicked the plants in "Butterflies."
"The Na'vi can also experience their ancestors through a connection with sacred trees," the attorneys said of "Avatar." "In contrast, the plants in 'Bats and Butterflies' are just window-dressing."
Apparently, Judge Real agreed.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.